Necromantic Options

January 16th, 2012

Joshua Zaback

Best in Class Archive

            Hello everyone, and welcome to the first-ever edition of Best in Class, where we bring you new archetypes or alternate class features on a weekly basis.  To start things off, I’ve decided to talk about a character archetype rather special to us here at Necromancers of the Northwest: the necromancer.  For a long time, these mages have captured our imagination with their dread and terrible power.  Today I will be providing two new archetypes to put that same dread power at the disposal of your characters.



New Wizard Archetype:

Master of Unlife

            Masters of unlife are wizards who have devoted themselves to the art of necromancy and specifically focus on creating and controlling undead minions to serve whatever nefarious ends suit their circumstances. 

            Command Undead (Su): At 1st level, a master of unlife gains Command Undead as a bonus feat and can channel negative energy, as a cleric of his level, a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier.  This ability replaces arcane bond.

            Undead Servitors (Su): Beginning at 1st level, a master of unlife can create an undead servitor to aid him in his journeys.  This ability can animate the corpse of any Medium-sized or smaller humanoid creature, provided it is mostly intact, and requires an eight-hour ritual and the expenditure of 100 gp worth of special oils and dust, which are used to prepare the corpse.  This process destroys any trace of knowledge or personality the corpse had in life and the animated servitor is wholly mindless. 
            An undead servitor can be animated as either a zombie or a skeleton, at the master of unlife’s discretion, and has all the appropriate statistics of a creature of that type with the following exceptions: an undead servitor always has total hit points equal to half the master of unlife’s total hit points, Hit Dice equal to the master of unlife’s Hit Dice, and uses the master of unlife’s base attack bonus and base saving throw bonuses.
            While mindless, an undead servitor is a perfect servant to the master of unlife, capable of following nearly any explicit command, provided it does not require independent thinking on the part of the undead servitor. This ability can be used once per day; however, a master of unlife can never have more than one undead servitor at a time, and creating a new servitor destroys the old one.

            At 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels, the number of undead servitors the master of unlife can maintain at one time increases by one, to a total of 5 undead servitors at 20th level.
            This ability replaces arcane school.

            Master Necromancer (Su): Beginning at 10th level, a master of unlife is so skilled at the necromantic arts that he can substitute raw talent for a certain amount of ritual components in his necromancy spells. Any necromancy spells with a costly material component cast by the master of unlife require only half the special materials they ordinarily would, effectively reducing the price of the costly material components by half. 
            This ability replaces the bonus feat gained at 10th level.


New Bard Archetype:

Corpse Piper

            Despite the name, corpse pipers are performers of any kind who have discovered a mysterious and truly vile music which can be used to temporarily animate and control lifeless humanoid corpses.  Corpse pipers’ fascination with necromancy doesn’t end with the music, and their intense study into the subject offers increased ability with regard to necromancy spells at the cost of their performance abilities.

            Dancing Corpse (Su): Starting at 1st level, a corpse piper with this ability can use his bardic performance to animate a corpse, which rises to fight for him. The corpse in question must be one of a Medium-sized or smaller human creature, and must be within 120 ft. of the corpse piper. Any effect which prevents the sound of the performance from reaching the corpse also prevents this ability from functioning. This ability can only be used on corpses: sleeping or unconscious creatures are not sufficient.
           The corpse in question rises as a zombie, which obeys the corpse piper’s telepathic commands for the duration of the performance. Issuing a command to the zombie is a move action. When the bardic performance ends, or if at any time the animated corpse can no longer see or hear the corpse piper, the corpse immediately becomes lifeless, dropping dead wherever it stands.
            At 5th level, and every 6 bard levels thereafter, the bard may animate an additional corpse with each performance. The bard can issue commands to more than one zombie with a single move action, as long as they are all recieving the same command.
            This ability replaces inspire courage.

            Song of the Dead (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, any corpse animated by the corpse piper’s dancing corpse ability gains a +2 morale bonus to attack and damage. This bonus increases by +1 for every four bard levels beyond 3rd.
            This ability replaces inspire competence.

            Necromantic Casting: A corpse piper is a master of necromancy and can learn a number of extra spells from that school.  At 2nd level, the corpse piper may immediately learn any sorcerer/wizard spell from the necromancy school of a level he could cast.  At 6th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the corpse piper may select one additional spell.
            This ability replaces versatile performance.

            Well, that’s it for this week’s Best in Class. I hope we see you again soon for more great player-driven content.  Until next time, please allow me to wish you all the best in your gaming endeavors.